When I stopped writing when he broke me,
It wasn't too big of a deal.
My writings weren't very good back then anyway,
It really was just “emo poetry” like he called it.
It was one way of coping
It was one thing to do besides cut
It was one thing to tear ink across paper rather blades across my skin.
When he was in the business of taking things from me,
My writing was of the least importance.
Much less important than say,
When he told my sister things I'd said to him
My ability to trust
When I found out my friendship with him was just a joke
“Thought it would be funny to see what would happen”
And consequently had me realize that I'd also lost
So many pieces of my body
To someone who only ever planned to hurt them.
I thought we were friends.
I thought dealing with the harassment and assault was easier
Than dealing with not being friends.
He treated me this way when I was nice to him
How could I face what would happen if I stopped?
His words and his hands already scratched every surface of my body and heart
Pushed away any coping skills I had
Or sense of self
Or hope of having friends.
Why even try to win when I've already lost everything?
This poem is not about him.
I've already written those poems.
I even thought I already knew how to write something called “I Feel My Body Is Not My Own.”
Oh, I was so wrong.
This poem is about the person who I thought saved me from him,
But really ended up making what he did seem like child's play
Seem like preparation
For her particular brand of hell
That healed every scratch he left
Just to leave burns in their places.
The first thing I wrote when I started writing again
Over a year after his “emo poetry” jokes
Was about him
Was about his hands and his betrayal.
So this one
Will be about yours.
It was you
That helped me start writing again.
From the poem I wrote about your light helping me bury his ghost
To the beautiful ones I wrote about you
That you never
Never bothered to appreciate the love I poured out for you,
The scars I forced myself to heal in order to write the beauty of your name.
You knew how important writing was to me
And you knew how hard it was to start again,
Hard like convincing myself it's okay to eat on bad days,
Hard like do I really deserve to do this?
But just like with him,
The writing issue is the least important battle here.
You knew how he affected my writing was important to me,
But you also knew that how he touched me was an even worse trigger
And you chose to ignore that too.
Not only that
But you chose to ignore me when I told you to stop
When I told you I wasn't ready
When I told you he was the reason why I couldn't do these things with you yet
You didn't care.
Just like when I told you writing my expressions of love for you was extra special because every single time I had to battle all that I went through with him just to write one poem and you didn't care to read them,
You didn't care to read my body language
When I became too scared to verbally tell you I was uncomfortable.
Your poutting when I pushed you off
Your coming back anyway
Your constant questions
Refusing to understand
About what I wouldn't do
About how miserable this was for you
About how you just want to feel loved
About how it's my fault for still letting him affect our relationship
All made it so that I couldn't tell you
Without feeling unsafe.
You made me feel like I was doing something to you if I said no
Like I was ruining our connection by being uncomfortable
Like you deserve more than me
Like you deserve more from me.
I'd go further than I wanted to just to make you happy for one day
Just for you to expect more the next time
Just for the cycle to start again.
More reason to believe it's all my fault, right?
And the worst part is
I told myself you loved me.
I convinced myself it wasn't abuse.
No, never over anything sexual,
But in the moments when I'd question if something you did was emotionally abusive-
The jokes about my eating disorder,
The lack of care when I said I wanted to cut again,
The ignoring me for hours or days after hanging out
So that I was constantly wondering if you were mad at me
Which led to me constantly trying to be perfect so that you wouldn't be mad at me-
When I wondered if any of that was okay
Of course it was
“She loves you”
I told myself
And carried on
Until eight months after it was all over
During the #metoo era,
Everything came to the surface.
What you did
What you are
What you made me
And I haven't written since then.
What did I have to write about when I apparently can't even identify the things that are hurting me while they're still going on?
And I could keep saying that part of it isn't that big of a deal
It was one way of coping
It was one thing to do besides contemplate death
It was one thing to do besides swallow handfuls of pills.
It sent me to the hospital because I didn't trust myself alone.
It sent me away from an innocent, pure relationship because I didn't trust someone could want to love me without hurting me.
It sent me away from a relationship that was not-so-innocent, not-so-pure, but still one that was healthy and consensual because he saw that my anxiety wasn't worth his temporary pleasure.
It sent me into panic attack after panic attack because though it's over, I relive it in my mind every day.
But those panic attacks often happen in her arms
And being held by her make it all worth it.
Because though it sent me through all these things
She understands all of it.
So yesterday I saw him for the first time in a year
And I was fine
Not because he's nothing in comparison to you,
But because I was holding her hand.
And today I decided
That if someone like you could help me heal from him
She can help me heal from you too.
Will make me stop writing again.
Because writing isn't everything.
But it's one way of coping.
It's one way of healing.
It's one way of surviving.
And it's the one way that I don't want to live without.